IDF - day zero

Sunday is winding down. The usual suspects are gently digesting the Squid Beard and crispy fried bullfrog from dinner (actually, the bullfrog was off), we compare our purchases – I've got a rather spiffy Chairman Mao wristwatch with the Great Helmsman waving to a crowd in time to the second hand - and conversation turns towards the pleasures to come.

Sunday is winding down. The usual suspects are gently digesting the Squid Beard and crispy fried bullfrog from dinner (actually, the bullfrog was off), we compare our purchases – I've got a rather spiffy Chairman Mao wristwatch with the Great Helmsman waving to a crowd in time to the second hand - and conversation turns towards the pleasures to come.

Forget buzzword bingo – we decide what IDF needs is a Moore's Law Drinking Game. This would be simple: every time the phrase is mentioned on stage, you take a drink. In keeping with the spirit of the law, each drink has to have twice the performance of that taken previously but in the same size. The roadmap starts with a small glass of shandy, then progresses to strong lager, a light cava, a meaty red, vodka and absinthe. Should that roadmap run out of performance, then it's time to go dual-core.

The advantages are manifold. Unless Intel wants the keynotes to turn into bacchanals of epic proportions, it'll have to tone down the marketing – and if it doesn't, then at least it'll be a lot less painful by the end.

Talking of painful: it's Monday morning and 2:30am. Time for bed. With an 8:30 start from the hotel lobby, I can still get just about six hours kip... alarm clock, iPod and mobile are all set for 8:15 and double-checked, and I slip into the arms of Morpheus.

I dream of giant wasps, and wake to find it's the phone ringing. There's nobody there.

Chairman Mao says it's 6:45am. I say "WTF?".

Some bright spark has asked the hotel to provide alarm calls for everyone... except UK PR Alastair Kemp. He denies all knowledge.

We have a special breakfast in a special room, kept well away from the rest of the guests. Entrance by ticket only. I fancy something oriental, but the nice man at the buffet shows beans, eggs and greassy noodles only. Has to be the noodles, I suppose. He doesn't open the lid of the pan marked MOSLEM ABSTAIN: I later discover this is where the bacon and sausages are hiding. One of our number decides to "cause my first diplomatic incident" and ostentatiously puts his packet of cigarettes on the table. Within seconds, waitpersons converge – he smiles in anticipation of a barney to come – but only to deposit an ashtray.

Rather grumpily, the early-awakened journalists drag their corpses onto the coach outside the hotel for the 8:30 sharp. By 8:44, we are still outside. Chairman Mao reminds me that we've been awake for two hours now.

An IDF fixture takes the stage. Larger than life MC-cum-fixer David Dickstein appears and gives us a multilingual hello. "It's the biggest IDF ever outside the US. And we've got wi-fi!You're stylin' on the wireless, as we say in the US. What's more, there are no hand-outs. This great new technology means that all our slides are on the Intel web site..."

A heckle from the audience: "It's not working!"

"Great start. And let us know if the food's no good"

The press briefing that follows is around seven hours long – this is where, as the kids from Fame were warned, I start paying.

There's lots on Intel in China – 7000 people, $3.8 billion invested, local R&D working in lots of areas – but less on things that may tickle the average UK reader. We learn that Intel China has developed laptop alarm technology, so if you move a notebook without typing in a password it makes a noise like a scalded Skoda. Whether this will deter the more brazen-necked blagger has yet to be seen; like car alarms, there may be certain problems in the implementation – or it might just be mistaken for one of the more raucous ringtones favoured by the youth of today. This is perhaps something that can be checked in the stress testing facility that Intel China's installed to support its local OEMs - and having survived the taxi ride from the airport, I have no doubt that they can test stress to destruction.

Other points of interest from far Cathay: they're working on visual identification software that can identify bodies in a crowd behaving in a certain way. This is good for football fans, says speaker John Du, as it can watch tons of footy telly on your behalf and identify the best bits such as goals. I wonder whether it's also good for people who like CCTV cameras but don't have the time to actually track thousands of suspects at once. Doubtless the Democratic People's Republic of Great Britain will be making good use of this before any more authoritarian regimes get stuck in.

I haven't quite got my ear tuned to Chinese English yet, so when Du talks about paralysing applications it takes me a moment to work out that he means parallelising – a word that seems custom-designed to stress test the Oriental tongue. Then there's a swift canter through some genuinely interesting and painfully under-reported work, such as using FPGAs to simulate how gigabyte caches might work, how QoS might be added to caching, and how hyperfast network interfaces might be sped up by synchronising them to the processor core. Such ideas have all sorts of ramifications for the next generation of multicore processors – but we're through them in a moment.

And finally, there's a bit of flag waving for how Intel China is working hard in wireless, including substantial contributions to WiMax standardisation.

So I ask the obvious question: "Intel China is contributing to the IEEE 802.16e and m committies. There's a history of disputes between China and the IEEE on such matters – is Intel China on the side of Intel or China?"

I get a serious answer. Intel China is working closely with the Chinese Government to educate them on the importance of worldwide standards, and with the IEEE to explain the Chinese concerns.

"So you agree with everyone?"

"Yes."

Mmm. This is going to be harder than I thought.

It's time to break for coffee. More later...

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